Admins / Experience Cloud

Salesforce Experience Cloud Alternatives in 2023

By Ronny Belenitsky

Any digital transformation cannot be complete without involving your company’s stakeholders. And who are the most important stakeholders of any organization? Obviously, we are talking about the end customers.

Some companies work directly with consumers (B2C), while others work with partners or distributors (B2B). No matter the company type you are working with, all companies have at least one thing in common: the customer comes first when it comes to any business decision.

Today, customers expect relevant content in real-time from anywhere in the world. What’s more, customers want to experience that content in the format and on the device of their choosing. It’s their journey that dictates your strategy. And to keep up with this new kind of “always-connected” customer, your business must embrace technology to deliver an unmatched customer experience.

Create Tailored Digital Journeys With Salesforce

A dedicated self-service portal can enhance your customers’ journeys and give them tailored digital experiences.

A self-service portal provides clients with personalized data and the ability to perform custom actions at any time, from any place. Nowadays, no one wants to enter a store to get their case resolved or stand in a boring queue to receive feedback from customer support. It’s way easier to handle these issues online, and self-service portals make this experience seamless.

If your company is running on Salesforce, the world’s leading CRM system, you have multiple options to deliver an exceptional digital experience

In this article, we will inspect the available options when it comes to robust self-service portal offerings for customers or even partners. From Salesforce’s very own Experience Cloud, to two versatile alternatives, let’s review the benefits each has to offer.

1. Building a Portal With Salesforce Experience Cloud

Salesforce Experience Cloud, formerly known as Salesforce Community Cloud, was introduced in 2013 as a platform for building cohesive end-user experiences directly on the Salesforce platform.

Experience Cloud gives you the ability to “open” your CRM system to the external world. Given that it is a native Salesforce solution, it offers all the benefits of direct Salesforce integration.

Over the years, Salesforce Experience Cloud has evolved with updates and enhancements, such as recent improvements to the Experience Builder UI for Aura and LWR Sites. Today, Experience Cloud serves as a comprehensive solution for creating engaging portals, web applications, communities, and self-service experiences, empowering organizations to deliver seamless interactions and drive customer and employee engagement.

Sounds good, but let’s take a closer look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of using this solution to build your portal – note that all advantages and disadvantages of Experience Cloud describe its declarative, clicks-only features.

Advantages of Salesforce Experience Cloud:

  • Ready-to-go templates to boost your implementation.
  • Lightning Bolt solutions available for free/purchase in the Salesforce AppExchange.
  • Full access to Customer 360 data saved in Salesforce.
  • Easy drag-and-drop builder that requires no code.
  • Your portal can be fully branded using custom themes.
  • Mobile ready.
  • Fully Branded.
  • Version Management capabilities.
  • Integrates with third-party apps via the AppExchange.

Disadvantages of Salesforce Experience Cloud:

  • There are some UX, page layout, and site page limitations – Salesforce does have dynamic forms but these have limitations. Dynamic forms may be sufficient, but there are use cases where dynamic forms cannot provide the layout required for example specific elements like accordions, carousels, or sliders. In terms of UX limitations, Experience Cloud can’t make use of repeated elements, in-line editing of tables, modal screens, and other engaging elements.
  • With Salesforce, you can’t create separate layouts per device type, although it is possible to show or hide specific elements based on whether you are in desktop or mobile. Even so, this option is not seamless and can increase maintenance time. For example, if you want a table to display with five columns on mobile but two in desktop, you will have to create that table twice and then edit its visibility settings.
  • There are no real-time input validations using out-of-the-box options – you have to first click on the “Save” button. It’s important to note that if you draw on custom development then you can accomplish real-time input validations.
  • Experience Cloud offers a few templates to get started, but these only cover a limited amount of use cases.

2. Build Your Own Portal

If the limitations and inflexibility of Salesforce Experience Cloud are not a match for your business needs, building your own portal is always an option. It will give you the most flexibility to fulfill any requirement as it gives you complete customization. Sounds like a dream, right? But that doesn’t mean it is a perfect solution. Here are some of the top reasons to use custom development, as well as some of the drawbacks:

Advantages of building your own portal:

  • Fully flexible user experience.
  • Can be tailor-made for any use case you can think of.
  • Provides greater control and ownership – with a custom-built portal, organizations have full ownership and control over the portal’s intellectual property, source code, and future enhancements.

Disadvantages of building your own portal:

  • Technical expertise is a must – developing a self-service portal requires specialized technical skills and resources.
  • Building a self-service portal can be a time-consuming process.
  • Once a self-service portal is developed, ongoing maintenance and support are essential for its smooth operation – this requires staying up to date with the latest technologies and best practices.
  • You will likely need to invest extra development time and resources to ensure your portal integrates with existing systems, databases, or third-party services.
  • Building a secure self-service portal involves implementing robust security measures and ensuring compliance with data protection regulations
  • Organizations should assess whether developing a self-service portal aligns with their core competencies and strategic priorities

3. Titan Digital Experience Platform

Titan is a full-blown experience platform that gives you the freedom to build your own portals, self-service sites, forms, surveys, and much more. Due to its flexibility, it is one of the top alternatives to Salesforce Experience Cloud on the market.

Titan is a zero-code platform with an intuitive drag-and-drop interface that will allow any Salesforce Admin to build and configure a powerful website for any industry and use case.

The Titan Platform is built on top of Salesforce and enjoys a native, real-time integration with the leading CRM.

Advantages of Titan:

  • Zero-code platform with an easy drag-and-drop interface.
  • Real-time bi-directional integration with Salesforce and full access to Customer 360.
  • Ready-to-go templates to cover use cases for Nonprofits, the Education sector, Marketing, Events, HR, and Tech. Template examples include donation forms, teacher assessment forms, webinar registration forms, hardware request forms, and many more.
  • 100% flexible user experience per device.
  • Fully branded.
  • Mobile-first approach.
  • Offline Capabilities.
  • Built-in third-party integrations with SAP, MS Word, Excel, Google Drive, Amazon S3, Slack, PayPal, GitHuB, and many more.
  • Version management capabilities.

Disadvantages of Titan:

  • Onboarding time can take a few hours depending on the complexity of your use case.
  • Website domain/subdomain is limited to one per customer – additional domains can be purchased at an extra cost.
  • Requires a resource with Salesforce knowledge and experience.
  • Does not permit custom development besides JavaScript and CSS – if you want additional functionalities, you need to reach out to Titan product support.

Snapshot of Salesforce Experience Cloud and Its Top Contenders

We have taken a deep dive into our top three solutions for building a stunning portal integrated with Salesforce. But what’s the bottom line, and who comes out as the real winner? Take a look at our comparison table below to find out:

Experience CloudCustom DevelopmentTitan Platform
CostMediumVery ExpensiveMedium
Time-to-MarketShortLongVery Short
Long Time Maintenance EffortLowVery HighLow
Required Resources for the ProjectSF AdminDevelopersSF Admin
Layout FlexibilitySame as the Salesforce UIFullFull
User ExperienceSame as the Salesforce UIYou can develop anything you can dream of!Almost anything you can dream of!
BrandingYes (with custom themes)YesYes (with custom themes)
Salesforce IntegrationYesRequires development per integrationYes
Third-party IntegrationsVia AppExchange or Custom DevelopmentRequires paid add-ons or developmentYes – integrates with a range of third-party tools
Real-Time Data ValidationsNo*YesYes
Workflow and AutomationYesNoYes
MobileMobile Ready** Fully dynamic layout per deviceFully dynamic layout per device
Salesforce KnowledgeCompatibleRequires developmentCompatible
Salesforce Digital Engagement CompatibleRequires developmentCompatible

*Can be accomplished with custom development.

**Can show/hide components per device type. You can also achieve a fully dynamic layout per device with custom development.

Top Use Cases for Salesforce Portals

Now that we have taken a look at some of the best methods for building an HTML portal for Salesforce, including Experience Cloud and its top contenders, let’s touch on top use cases by taking a closer look at portal types.

Customer Self-Service Portals

These portals enable customers to access and manage their accounts, make payments, track orders, submit support tickets, and find answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs). Examples include customer portals provided by banks, healthcare, insurance companies, utility providers, and many more.

Employee Self-Service Portals

These portals empower employees to view and update their personal information, access payroll details, submit leave requests, access company policies and documents, and participate in training programs.

IT Service Management (ITSM) Portals

ITSM portals provide users with self-service access to IT services and support. Users can log incidents or service requests, track their status, access knowledge base articles and FAQs, and find solutions to common IT problems.

Supplier Self-Service Portals

These portals allow suppliers or vendors to manage their accounts, update product or service information, submit invoices, track payments, and communicate with the purchasing or procurement department of an organization. Many large organizations have dedicated supplier portals to streamline their supply chain processes.

Knowledge Base Portals

Knowledge base portals serve as repositories of information, documentation, and resources. Users can search for articles, guides, tutorials, troubleshooting steps, and other self-help materials. This means they can solve their burning questions fast without having to contact support.

Account Management Portal

These portals allow users to manage their accounts, update personal information, change passwords, view transaction histories, and perform other account-related tasks.

eCommerce Customer Portal

Customer portals for eCommerce platforms allow users to track orders, manage returns and exchanges, view purchase history, save payment methods, and update shipping addresses.

Healthcare Patient Portal

Patient portals allow individuals to access their medical records, schedule appointments, communicate with healthcare providers, request prescription refills, and view lab results.

Online Banking Portal

Banking portals enable customers to access and manage their bank accounts, make transactions, view statements, transfer funds, set up automatic payments, and perform other financial activities.

How Do Portals Work With Your Vertical Market?

If you are enjoying this article on alternatives to Salesforce Experience Cloud and our discussion of portal solutions has caught your eye, you might be wondering where vertical markets fit into this discussion. For example, you may be an education professional considering digitizing your institution, or a financial organization wanting to get off paper and give your clients more self-service options. How does this look in practice?

Let’s break it down by examining a few of the top verticals:

Transform the Education Sector

Do you want to connect with students on a deeper level? And is your priority to ease the load of teachers to make their job more seamless?

Portals for education are a powerful way to streamline recruitments and fast-track admissions, as well as provide personalized resources and self-service options. Students can sign in, update personal information fast, view their grades privately, apply and register for their favorite courses, submit grant applications, and learn more about student clubs. Financial Aid chatbots, support tickets, and payment gateways are the other key offerings of an efficient student portal for Salesforce.

Teachers can log in any time they like to view student records, get protected access to sensitive student information, and post shareable resources in knowledge centers that can be accessed instantly. Student portals also provide a great platform for distributing surveys on topics such as professor approval rates, student performance, and peer evaluation.

See Titan’s dynamic student portal here:

Fast-Track Finance

Are you looking to improve the client experience at your financial institution? And would you like to speed up tedious applications while providing complete personalization for customers? In this case, building beautiful portals for Finance is a great idea. Give your customers the ability to log in to your portal from anywhere in the world (and on any device) to fill out loan applications, credit card applications, and account opening applications. They can also update their personal details or change the beneficiaries on their policies without having to fill out tedious paperwork.

If your portal is integrated with Salesforce, all data can be fed back into the CRM in live time, where relevant employees will be notified of applications and policy changes as they happen for swift and convenient approval. If there is a financial dispute, this can also be conveniently logged via your portal, which can trigger automated investigations and follow-up in Salesforce.

Connect Patients, Doctors, Nurses, and Hospitals

Enhancing the healthcare industry is all about providing personalized and top-quality care for patients while easing the burden of overworked doctors and nurses. Providing Salesforce-integrated portals can give patients unparalleled self-service options so they can log in and fill out prescription requests at any time of day or night, or book an appointment in an online scheduler at the touch of a button. Admin pressure is lifted off patients via online intake forms and registration forms so that they can start receiving quality care fast.

Doctors and nurses can access patient medical records quickly and securely – they can then make informed decisions and take action to save lives. Want to find out if your hospital or medical institution is providing quality care? Or if your doctors, nurses, and administration staff are happy? Simply embed feedback and survey forms on your website where they can be easily filled out, with all data fed back into Salesforce.

Provide Support for the Nonprofit Sector

As a nonprofit organization, the chances are you want to streamline all of your administrative processes so that your employees and volunteers can concentrate on the core of their job: the valuable work that they do. Why get stuck on manual grant management or membership renewals when you could be focusing on improving the lives of others and safeguarding the planet?

With a Salesforce portal, you get powerful self-service options to empower individuals to engage with your nonprofit organization. For example, you can provide donation forms that can be conveniently submitted on your portal, enabling volunteers to fill in their details and sign up to your organization.

Are you organizing an event to raise awareness for your cause? You can orchestrate event registration and send out details to all attendants via your portal. Similarly, memberships can be renewed efficiently while grant applications can be submitted in real-time. With all information fed back into Salesforce, you can get a 360-degree view of donors, volunteers, and employees.

Centralized Portals to get your Insurance Company off Paper

In the insurance industry, you need to be able to give your customers peace of mind while giving brokers detailed information on individuals so they can provide a quality service. But we all know that in insurance it’s easy to get bogged down by messy details, policy changes, and complicated quotes.

A Salesforce-integrated portal can simplify insurance processes and build trust in your organization. For example, you can empower clients to submit claims online and query them too. Similarly, customers can fill in online quote requests to receive real-time responses any time of day.

Policy changes and renewals can be simplified with intuitive policy forms containing pre-populated details that can be securely submitted via your insurance portal. If your client is involved in an accident, they don’t need to add to their distress by visiting an office if they can fill in an accident report form online.

Final Thoughts

And that’s a wrap! We hope you found this article interesting and that you learned more about the benefits of building a Salesforce-integrated portal for your business. No matter the solution you choose, whether it be Salesforce Experience Cloud, a custom-built portal, or Titan, you need to be clear on the features and capabilities you want for your portal and whether you have the skills and expertise to create (and maintain) it.

By looking at a range of different portal types and industries, we hope we have shown you that portals can be implemented for practically any vertical and solve an astonishing variety of use cases.

If you liked the sound of Titan’s no-code, ultra-flexible, and easy-to-maintain web builder, why not book a demo today?

The Author

Ronny Belenitsky

Ronny is the VP of Products at Titan. He is 15x Salesforce Certified.

Comments:

    Rebekah Oakes
    June 20, 2023 2:34 pm
    You can do a lot with Screen flows and Unofficial SF components for auto progress, custom buttons and in-line editable data tables. All of which provide the same simple drag-and-drop interface and can be leveraged in standard experience templates to take them that final step.

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